5 cures for Writer’s Block

To begin with, let me be clear that I do not think that writer’s block is some psychological malaise that strikes creative people.  Writer’s block is just a symptom of a larger cause. Whether it’s a personal issue (stress, exhaustion, grief, depression) or a story issue (no strong conflict, weak characters, no idea of the destination), if you cure the cause, you cure the block.

I’ve spoken before about writer’s block, and there’s a great guest post in my archives by Emma Newman on the same topic.  So today’s post is going to be quick and simple; 5 cures for writer’s block.

5. Get some rest

Seriously.  If you’re staring at the page and trying to keep your eyes open, don’t expect amazing words to flow from your fingers in a glorious rush of creativity.  Close the computer, go to bed an hour earlier.  Then tomorrow, come to the page early and fresh, and see what a difference it makes.

4. Work out your issues

Whatever it is that’s keeping you from your creativity, work it out.   Sometimes it just takes a good mental talking-to.  Sometimes you need to vent to a friend and get some reassurance.  Sometimes it’s more serious, and you just need time to get through it.  Do whatever works.  But while you are doing this, stop thinking about writing.  Stop trying to write.  Concentrate on your issue.

If you are really meant to write, the drive will come back.  But it won’t do that until you are ready.

3. Do some outlining or freewriting

If it’s a story issue, then it might be time to get out the pen and paper, or the index cards, or the spreadsheet, and start working out a map.  Work out your destination, spend time thinking about your story and you will get that spark of an idea that sends you running back to the page.

If you’re a pantser and you don’t outline, then pull out some paper, find a comfy chair and do some exploratory writing.

2. Have a shower or go for a walk

I get so many, many fantastic ideas in the shower.  Or walking (on my own, without the distraction of conversation) or, unfortunately, driving, which can be terribly distracting in traffic.  So if you’re stuck and not sure what you’re doing, hop in the shower, get the water nice and warm and just think.  Let your mind wander in the direction of the story.  It’s all about helping the subconscious come up with the next great idea.

1. Write

The number 1, always successful way to work through writer’s block.  Sit down in front of the page, and write.  Set yourself a goal of a good thousand words, and don’t get up until you’re done.  Fight with the story.  Never give up.  The first few hundred words will be excruciatingly painful, but then the dam will break and you will hit your target before you know it.

This requires some tenacity and stubbornness, but those are good traits for a writer anyway, so you might as well cultivate them.

Go hard.  Break that block.  Never give up, never surrender!*

*Kudos if you can name that movie :)

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4 thoughts on “5 cures for Writer’s Block

  1. Lately, the best thing I’ve found to do is to write utter drivel until I stumble upon gold (I’m always surprised when I stumble upon gold), then I let that discovery fuel my ambitions for awhile and then I do it all over again. Which is basically your #3. Which has a lot in common with #1, actually.
    The other thing that helps me is gimmicks, sad as that may sound. (A new writing program here, a writing contest there, picking up a pen and paper, going to a cafe …)

  2. Totally agree–writer’s block is a manifestation of some kind of problem. What bugs me even more than attributing it to ‘psychological malaise’ is when someone attributes it to metaphysical malaise. Mercury’s in retrograde and my muse is sulking and etc., etc.

    Anyway, good post, all around.

    “Set yourself a goal of a good thousand words, and don’t get up until you’re done.” Or even a mediocre thousand words. Or, hell, a thousand abysmal words. Just to get the juices flowing.

  3. *Snicker* By Grabthar’s hammer, it’s not that hard. ;) Good points with fighting writer’s block. When you’re caught up in the stress or issues, it’s easy to lose how it mess up everything else.

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